(KTVI) - Chris Thetford explained to Elliot Weiler the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning cell phone users about a new scam that can add unauthorized charges to their monthly wireless bills.
The scam has been dubbed the “one ring” scam because victims’ phones often ring only once before the call is disconnected. If a victim tries to return the call, they are charged a $19.95 international call fee plus $9 a minute for the duration of the call.
“Scammers are counting on victims to be curious enough about a call from an unfamiliar number that they will call back right away,” said Michelle L. Corey. “Once they are connected, they may be put on hold for ages, increasing the charge to their phone bill. These people have no conscience.”
Victims have told BBB that the calls appear to come from Caribbean nations including Grenada, Antigua, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica or the British Virgin Islands. Area codes for the calls include 268, 284, 473, 809 and 876. However, some calls may be domestic.
BBB advises consumers to take note of the phone number the calls come from and notify their cell phone carriers immediately if they believe they have been victims of the scam. By documenting the fraud, consumers may have a better chance of getting the charges removed.
The practice of third parties placing unauthorized charges on wireless accounts is called “cramming.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have reviewed thousands of cramming complaints, and they expect more.
BBB recommends that if you receive a call displaying an unfamiliar out-of-state telephone number on your caller ID, ignore the call and do not call back. Check your wireless bills carefully and inform your carrier if you spot any unauthorized charges.
BBB tips for avoiding cell phone fraud include:
- When in doubt, don’t pick up or call back. If you don’t recognize an out-of-state telephone number on your caller ID, ignore it.
- Understand your mobile bill. Be sure to keep track of what services you pay for, that way you will be able to determine if any charges are unauthorized.
- Keep a close eye on monthly statements. Anyone can become a victim of bill cramming. Monitoring your bill is the best way to determine whether or not you’ve been affected. The sooner you spot any unexpected charges, the sooner you can stop them.
- Add restrictions to your account. Contact your service provider to see if you can restrict third-party billing on your account.
- Inform other users on your mobile phone plan. It’s important to let other friends and family members on your cell phone plan know about this scam, and to ignore phone numbers they do not recognize.